Immigration and Identity

Read Time: 3 min.

Who are you? What do you do? Where are you from? These are all questions of identity. How you answer these questions is the bedrock for how you see yourself, how you make decisions, and ultimately how you interact with the world. I’m a daughter. I’m a mother. I work in a non-profit. I’m from a rural community. I’m American. In my circles, in my community, those are acceptable answers to the questi...

Living in a World of Mutual Display

Read Time: 4 min.

The philosopher Charles Taylor once said that we live in a world of “mutual display.” I’m more and more convinced that he’s right. Whether I like it or not, I’m stuck and complicit in a system that encourages me to judge others according to what brands they’re wearing, what causes they’re supporting, how happy they look, and so much more—all in comparison to myself. And it forces me to ask: am I g...

Looking Back at Islam & the West

Read Time: 4 min.

In our post-9/11 world, the relationship between the “West” and “Islam” is often misunderstood. Perceived contrasts and persistent stereotypes often have nothing to do with reality, and tensions continue to increase in our polarized world. As these biases against, and fear of, others becomes deeper ingrained, it is more important than ever to take a look at our shared past to consider how we might...

Knowing Our History Without Repeating It

Read Time: 3 min.

The release of the video of the tasing and arrest of NBA player Sterling Brown –over a parking violation. The Black Lives Matter movement. A decision by National Football League owners to mandate that their players on the field stand for the singing of the national anthem. We’d like to believe we have left slavery and its legacy behind. But I wonder, as I read these stories, how far behind we have...

Talking Bias

Read Time: 2 min.

Understanding implicit bias can be an extremely difficult task for most people. It requires a degree of self-awareness and a willingness to admit that, sometimes, many of our daily interactions with other people are colored by prejudice, even when we mean well. Nobody wants to own up to assuming that a person is less intelligent because of their hair color, or less capable because of their age, or...

Stereotypes & Perspective-Taking

Read Time: 3 min.

When people look at me, they generally don’t wonder if I’m a criminal. I’ve never had a security guard follow me around a store afraid I might steal something. I’ve never had a police officer mistake my cell phone for a gun. If I were on trial for a crime, I would be less likely to be convicted and, if I were convicted, I would probably get a lighter sentence. As a white woman from the suburbs, I’...

Tolerance of a Deeper Sort

Read Time: 4 min.

As I grew up, I learned that respect comes in different forms. I’m supposed to respect my elders (age has its privileges; assume the older are also wiser). I’m supposed to respect the American flag (don’t let it touch the ground). I’m supposed to respect the wilderness (leave it as if it were untouched). One of my challenges—and perhaps not only mine—is that I have a hard time separating respect f...

Conservation or Convenience—A Matter of Context

Read Time: 3 min.

Summers in Northern California were truly incredible. It was always hot enough to go swimming, rarely so hot that you needed AC, and there was always something to do. You could wear shorts during the day and sweats at night. My hometown of Richmond, CA is a WWII industrial town just minutes from Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin County. We were on the water, in the heart of the ‘hood, an...

Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards

Read Time: 4 min.

I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, watching the Berlin wall fall down when I was ten. My mom told me stories about safety drills in the 1960s, when she and her classmates would hide under desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Fortunately this was not my reality, and I was able to blissfully continue on with my childhood as if big threats were a thing of the past. Over the next 20 years, ...

Watching Our Heroes Fall from Grace

Read Time: 4 min.

What has happened to all the role models? It seems like they’ve started dropping like flies. In light of the recent sexual assault allegations in particular, it feels like the “good” ones are being proven just as bad as anyone else. In other words, they’re not who we thought they were. Have you heard the saying, “never meet your heroes”? Meeting your heroes humanizes them—their capes come off and ...

The Superpower of Representation

Read Time: 3 min.

When I was in the third grade, a film came out and my classmates and I couldn’t have been more excited. This film was the latest installment in a series that our moms and dads grew up with. It took place in a far-off land. There were epic battle scenes, fun characters, and who could forget the score? The film was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. I know the prequels get a lot of vitriol and...

The Consequences of Not Making a Difference

Read Time: 3 min.

I was eleven when I first read Number the Stars, my first introduction to the 20th-century atrocity known as the Holocaust. I was fourteen when Schindler’s List won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I was sixteen when I watched it for the first time, finally receiving permission from my parents to watch it with my AP US history class. I was nineteen when my World Civilization professor preached ...

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